Orange Alert, Orange Alert

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Intelligence warning of "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experienced on September 11" has led to another shift in the national terrorism rainbow. That'll mean tighter security for holiday travellers, including random vehicle searches at airports. No word on whether Tom Ridge plans to deploy Rover.

Seriously, though, if we did see holiday attacks that "rival" or "exceed" 9/11, would there be any political will whatever to hold the line on civil liberties? There's been a gradual return to sanity among many of the legislators who voted for PATRIOT, and moves to repeal provisions that threaten privacy without making us appreciably safer. An attack won't change the wisdom of those provisions, but it'd likely make that momentum evaporate.

NEXT: Tidy story

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  1. Well, by the generally snarky tone of these posts, I’d say the terrorists are losing. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around who’s afraid of even his own shadow, much less the long hand of the Arab street.

  2. Non-Walker Jesse:
    Well, I figured it went without saying that a huge attack would be bad for the usual reasons one doesn’t want to be attacked.

  3. Historically speaking, it’s normal for freedoms to be restricted during wartime. It’s actually a modern concept that liberties should be available at all times regardless. I guarantee if terrorists regularly attacked these shores, we’d be giving them up wholesale. Two halfway positive notes–if you’ve built up a superstructure of rights, it can’t be torn down overnight, and, historically, these freedoms tend to return when people fell safer and the threat of their own government is clearer.

  4. I have credible intelligence indicating that on Wednesday night a man with a beard will be infiltrating targets all around the US. He’s planning to evade all of our usual air transportation security mechanisms as he flies from house to house. He’ll be delivering packages that have not been screened by security, and he’ll be placing them in the vicinity of a highly flammable dead tree found in most homes.

    Apparently he chose this date for its religious significance. Wednesday and Thursday are the days when people will celebrate the birth of an alleged prophet in the Middle East. Although this prophet was executed as a dangerous subversive two thousand years ago, he still has fanatical followers all around the world. The man delivering these packages is doing it in the name of that prophet.

    Worse yet, we have reason to believe that various American citizens will act as accessories to his security breaches, leaving out cookies and eggnog for him. I can’t stress enough that any American citizen found collaborating with this terrorist will be prosecuted as an enemy combatant.

    You have been warned.

  5. Ed, if you’re still reading, I was simply thinking of informing local media for a localized threat; national media for a national threat. If they don’t know if it’s local or national, simply post here. We’ll take it from there.

  6. It is evident that no one on this thread takes the threat of renewed terror attacks all that seriously. Which is interesting, since a commonplace of the anti-war critique was that an invasion of Iraq is supposed to make such attacks more probable.
    Equally evident, is taht no one in this thread believes the exercise of free speech in America is perilous. Nobody snarks in a police state.

    Perhaps they’re both bogeyman. But of the two, Al-quaida is likely more of a threat to Americans than the Patriot Act.

  7. Andrew, you’re making a mistake drawing broad conclusions from this kinky little corner of the world: H&R.

  8. Sure we take it seriously, but what are they gonna do? Same shit. There’s not much we regular people can do to stop them except point out suspicious happenings and whatnot and, if confronted aboard one of our planes, kill them. So, point out suspicious shit and if somebody gets out of line on your plane, beat them within an inch of their life. Maybe past that inch, if the spirit moves you. A simple, happy holiday.

  9. Andrew,

    I for one do take new terrorist threats seriously (especially with our occupation of Iraq), its the stupid system the the “homeland security” department devised that’s so laughable.

  10. Actually not exclusive to this ‘little corner’….Today’s online poll in St Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest newspaper:

    Will the new terror alert alter any of your plans, including travel, for the holidays?

    Current voting stands at 777 NO and 56 YES

  11. I find the increased terror alert interesting. Basically, the government “knows” that some group, somewhere, is planning something, to attack Americans, some where in the world, at some point in time, with some unknown weapon.

    I thought we knew that much all along?

    Makes you wonder if bin Ladin wasn’t a threat, according to the pResident, why he’s still capable of getting the terror alert raised while the US and Halliburton claim Iraqi Oil Fields.

  12. In France we have had a similar warning system for sometime; one learns to ignore it after a period of time.

  13. Andrew-

    If they tell me that a flight out of such-and-such airport will be hijacked on such-and-such day, but they have no more details than that, I’ll pay attention and change my plans accordingly. If they just tell me that someone, somewhere, somehow, sometime, will attack something with some unknown weapons, it’s useless information, so how can I possibly base my decisions on it?

  14. What good are these warnings anywhy? Someone, somewhere, somehow, will launch an attack against someone or something. Very useful information. If the government has specific information, then let us know, otherwise this is all just Chicken Little nonsense.

  15. >> What good are these warnings anywhy?

    Here’s hoping you never get an answer to that inane question.

    Merry Christmas. Be Vigilant.

  16. It appears that these alerts are based on little more than increases in “chatter”: all the excess evesdropping that intelligence agencies cannot possibly hope to process in any meaningful or timely manner.

    History shows that too much information is often more dangerous than not enough. But one person, alert and in the right place, can make the difference.

  17. I’d feel safer if the various spook agencies simply shared their concerns with various, appropriate media, cutting out Homeland Security and Tom Ridge as middle men.
    Homeland Security is a misnomer as are other gummint agencies.

  18. “I’d feel safer if the various spook agencies simply shared their concerns with various, appropriate media…”

    And who might that be?

  19. I think this is simply an application of the time-honored tradition called CYA: Cover Your Ass. If something does happens, they don’t want to be caught having done nothing. Now, at least, they can say “We told you so.”

  20. What good are these warnings anywhy?

    What good could they possibly be? We’ve had the alert system since shortly after 9/11 and it’s been two colors.

    Vigilance means, beat the shit out of the first person on your plane who gets out of their seat and says or does anything untoward. Seriously, jump right out of your chair and beat them until they stop moving. Kill his friends, too. It’s ok, they already want to die.

  21. So wait, we should worry about another attack because of our civil liberties? What about worrying about what another attack (bigger than 9/11) would do to:

    – Economy (bye bye recovery)
    – National morale
    – International standing
    – Homeland (in)Security
    – Lives that would have to be lost to make any event “bigger” than 9/11
    – Playoff Football Schedule!

  22. Ah, yes. Americans on airplanes were so docile and calm before the warning was raised.

  23. Beating the shit out of the first person who moves puts the thrill back in flying.

  24. I feel much safer with a national mood ring. I don’t see why anybody is complaining about lack of specificity. The federal government has good reason to believe that somewhere, somehow, at some time, somebody might use some unknown means to attack any of the following:

    shopping malls
    airports
    bridges
    public property
    private property
    apartment buildings
    industrial facilities
    sporting events
    national parks
    post offices
    public utilities
    office buildings
    movie theaters
    sea ports
    schools
    amusement parks
    grocery stores

    or any other place within the United States, or perhaps some place in a foreign country.

    Anyway, they’ve done a good job of narrowing it down for us. Let’s give Tom Ridge some slack!

  25. I’ve heard enough! I’m heading for the Fallout shelter and bolting the door. Anyone who trys to get at my store of freeze-dried food gets a load of buckshot!

  26. I’ve heard that Patriot II says a red alert begins martial law, and “bye-bye, Constitution”. I think the whole color alert system is designed to get us ready for that. Don’t hold your breath waiting to get those civil liberties back!

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